Zimbabwean Elections and Imperialist Propaganda
Just 38 years ago, the last – and most ‘liberal’ – constitution of Rhodesia was promulgated. It allowed for black African voters to vote in just eight of the country’s 66 constituencies, on the basis that blacks had insufficient experience with democracy to be able to sensibly exercise their vote. There was of course some murmur about this in the British press and in Whitehall – if nothing else, such undisguised and unmitigated racism is a bit embarrassing to a ruling class that has learnt to perpetrate its economic and political dominance through more subtle means. Sanctions were even announced (although widespread sanctions-busting by British firms rendered these redundant). However, the denunciation of Ian Smith and his despicable fascist statelet was nothing compared with the treatment that has for the last ten years been meted out to President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF government on account of their putative abuses of democracy.
A pedant might argue that nine parliamentary elections in the 28 years since independence, all of them fully inclusive and all of them monitored and approved by numerous independent international organisations, indicates a significant commitment by the Zimbabwean state to the principles of democratic election. However, according to imperialism, such a position is clearly facile. There is a very obvious problem with Zimbabwe’s elections: the Zimbabwean electors have been voting for the wrong candidate and refusing to play the ‘regime change’ game.
Make no mistake about it: the British state is desperate for regime change in Zimbabwe. In Iraq, they wanted regime change so they could get their greasy hands back on the oil. In Zimbabwe, they want regime change so they can get their greasy hands back on the land and the mineral wealth. Ever since the Zimbabwean government committed itself to solving the question of the unequal and racist distribution of land, transferring a significant proportion of the country’s land from a tiny white minority to thousands of landless black farmers, Zanu’s alleged human rights abuses and anti-democratic practices have never been far from the front pages of the Times, the Guardian and the Telegraph.
During every election in Zimbabwe during this period, the imperialist press has gone into overdrive to denounce Zanu and to promote a more ‘friendly’ opposition. The most recent parliamentary, presidential and senate elections, all held on 29 March 2008, were no exception, with the policy-makers in Britain, the US and other imperialist countries lining up to give their support – financial and political – to Morgan Tsvangirai and his liberalisation-friendly Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
What the opposition really stands for
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) (currently divided into two factions, one led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the other by Arthur Mutambara) is the main opposition party in Zimbabwe. If was formed out of the notoriously racist Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) in cooperation with the shady Zimbabwe Democracy Trust (ZDT) (a powerful organisation of imperialists, including three former British foreign secretaries and a former US assistant secretary of state for Africa), towards the end of 1999. Its emergence was triggered by local and international opposition to the nascent Fast Track Land Resettlement Programme which was, after a century of colonial theft, seriously addressing the question of land ownership in Zimbabwe.
On every issue of importance, MDC has taken a reactionary stand. It opposed the land resettlement programme; it opposed the heroic military support rendered by Zimbabwe to its neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo, which had been invaded by Uganda and Rwanda acting on the instructions of US imperialism; it has advocated an economic programme of privatisation and liberalisation (allowing the dominance of foreign capital); and it opposes the new Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill (discussed below); it has persistently asked for imperialist sanctions to be ramped up in order to bribe the Zimbabwean population into rejecting the Zanu-PF government.
In the words of George Shire, a Zimbabwean lecturer living in Britain: “Keywords keep on coming up in the MDC’s entire manifesto, varied literature and the websites of its supporters. They are seduced by the discourse of privatisation and a dependence on the West. Just in case we have forgotten, privatisation means the transfer of productive assets from the state to the private sector. Zimbabwe’s productive assets include land, natural resources, forests, water, and rivers. These are asserts that the state holds in trust for the people. A majority of the population of the people of Zimbabwe live in the rural areas. Their lives depend directly on access to these asserts. To snatch away these assets and sell them as stock to private companies is a process of … barbaric dispossession …” (‘Zim must vote to protect revolution’, Zimbabwe Herald, 4 March 2008)
The forces of the pro-imperialist opposition have been bolstered in this election by a new entrant, Simba Makoni, a former Zanu-PF finance minister.
Makoni’s politics are much the same as those of the MDC. He represents the model of ‘development’ that involves lying prostrate before foreign monopoly capital. He is known to be on good terms with representatives of the Bretton Woods institutions, and has hinted at his enthusiasm for the private sector, reducing government spending, removing subsidies and doing everything possible to attract foreign investment.
South Africa’s Independent Online stated as far back as May 2003 that “Makoni is seen, together with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, as the only contender for the leadership who would be able to raise loans for Zimbabwe from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.”
We all know what the conditions for raising these loans are: privatisation, liberalisation, land reform freeze and a removal of subsidies. In short, opening up the Zimbabwean economy for unfettered plunder by imperialism.
Makoni’s campaign strategist, Nkosana Moyo, is a senior partner in CDC Capital Partners, which describes itself as “a UK government-owned fund of funds, with net assets of US$4bn. We use our own balance sheet to invest in private equity funds focused on the emerging markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America, with particular emphasis on South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.”
In policy terms, Makoni differs very little from the MDC, but his political value to imperialism is greatly increased by his standing independently.
What does Zanu stand for?
Zanu-PF’s record is one of immense achievements of historic proportions. It is Zanu which spearheaded the heroic liberation struggle against white minority rule; it is Zanu which led the land reform programme that resulted, at long last, to the redistribution of Zimbabwe’s land to its rightful owners.
Zanu’s current platform is based upon solidifying the gains made through the land resettlement programme and building the country’s economy through indigenisation and through mutually beneficial co-operation and trade with friendly countries such as China. Zanu’s central campaigning slogan for the 2008 was: “Defending our Land and National Sovereignty: Building Prosperity through Empowerment”, a slogan that clearly highlights the debate that is raging in Zimbabwe. Do we defend and build upon the gains made through the land reform programme, or do we let the new black farmers founder? Do we focus on indigenous development or do we sell ourselves for a ‘quick fix’ of foreign capital? Do we liberalise or do we subsidise? Do we privatise or nationalise?
Mugabe and Zanu-PF stand firmly and clearly on the side of building up the economy on the basis of local ownership and freedom from imperialist interference. Zanu’s plan includes the implementation of a new Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill (see below), as well as the wide distribution of generators, gasoline, tractors and cattle, in order to improve the productivity of the small farms created via the land reform programme.
The government of Zimbabwe could very easily abandon its militant policies aimed at protecting Zimbabwe’s independence and building its collective wealth – no doubt its ministers would be rewarded amply by the likes of the World Bank and the IMF. Indeed, this is exactly what the likes Tsvangirai are aching to do.
However, Mugabe and Zanu-PF have remained true to their principles and to the people of Zimbabwe. They will not depart from their famous slogan: “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again”.
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill
The April 2005 issue of Proletarian reported on a public meeting held in support of Zimbabwe, addressed by Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (then Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the UK and now its Foreign Minister).
In his speech, Comrade Mumbengegwi noted that the land redistribution programme, considered to be the ‘Third Chimurenga’ (third liberation struggle) had been highly successful and that Zimbabwe was embarking on a ‘Fourth Chimurenga’ – the economic struggle to hand over control of the country’s businesses to the Zimbabwean population in order to finally remove imperialist influence and pressure from their country and make themselves truly independent.
We are beginning to see the manifestations of this ‘Fourth Chimurenga’. A few weeks before the election, the Zimbabwean government promulgated a new law which stipulates that every company operating in the country must have at least 51 percent of its shares owned by indigenous Zimbabweans. This will ensure that foreign monopolies are no longer able to dominate any section of Zimbabwe’s economy and that the Zimbabwean population as a whole is able to benefit from all areas of the economy. Some of the biggest businesses in the country, including Rio Tinto, BP, Lever Brothers and Barclays Bank, will now have to find local partners.
Additionally, the new law will confer ownership of tractors, generators and livestock seized from large white-owned farms during the fast-track land reform programme to the new owners.
Robert Mugabe, in his speech at the launch of the election manifesto, explained some of the logic behind the new bill:
“The mining sector has remained at quite a slow pace, a pace that is costing us. Unless we are there, and we are there as owners, there as shareholders, we will continue to be cheated, there is going to be a lot of externalisation. We must tell our people that we need to break that area because right now there is very little yield from gold. We get very little, yet gold used to be our number one earner of foreign currency, competing with tobacco. We need to restore it to its lost position … It’s necessary that our minerals become truly our minerals. There are some that say if you do that you will lose investors, but we are losing already through foreign ownership.” (Op cit)
Zanu’s record in government
Below we present a few facts and figures in relation to three important areas of the Zanu government’s policy and performance: land reform, health care and education.
This is not the place for us to go into the details of the land reform programme, which has been dealt with in previous issues of Lalkar. The interested reader is strongly encouraged to read Harpal Brar’s book Chimurenga! The liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe, which contains a wealth of information on the subject.
For the purposes of this article, it is sufficient to say that the land reform programme has been a huge success and a great, irreversible victory for the common people of Zimbabwe. In spite of the relentless propaganda campaign by the imperialist press (and its slightly scruffier cousin, the social-democratic and Trotskyite press), the people of Zimbabwe, led by the government and by the disgruntled veterans of the heroic liberation war, were able to finally break the stranglehold of inequality.
Previously, the white colonial settler population (accounting for less than 1 percent of the population) held 70 percent of the country’s commercially viable arable land. This situation has now been resolved and, finally, the era of colonialism in Zimbabwe is over.
This historic achievement alone would be enough to justify complete support for Zanu in the current elections, especially in light of the fact that the opposition in Zimbabwe consistently denounced the land reform programme while it was taking place.
Health / AIDS
Much has been made of the fact that around 18 percent of the adult population in Zimbabwe is living with HIV or AIDS. This is, of course, appallingly high, but, sadly, it’s around the same as the rate in South Africa, and is much lower than in Swaziland, Botwana and Lesotho. Furthermore, Zimbabwe has been the most pro-active of all the countries in the region in terms of dealing with AIDS/HIV.
Indeed, Zimbabwe is the only southern African country where the AIDS/HIV infection rate is going down. Given the miniscule amounts of international aid received by Zimbabwe in comparison to that received by other countries (neighbouring Zambia, which has a similar HIV prevalence rate, receives around $187 per HIV-positive person annually from foreign donors, while Zimbabwe receives around $4), this is a remarkable achievement, and indicates that the government of Zimbabwe represents the interests of the masses of the people.
AVERT, a prominent AIDS charity working in southern Africa, notes that “there is evidence of positive changes in sexual behaviour. Condom use has increased, a higher number of young people are delaying first sex and many people have reduced their number of sexual partners. It is thought that an increased awareness of HIV and AIDS has influenced these changes … Increased condom use has been recognised as a major factor in the recent decline in Zimbabwe’s HIV prevalence. The number of free condoms distributed by the Government, NGOs and social marketing campaigns tripled during the 1990s, and further increased in subsequent years.” (avert.org)
A team from Imperial College (University of London), led by Dr Simon Gregson, found that behavioural changes in the period from 1998 to 2003 have led to a 49 percent decrease in the prevalence of AIDS among women in the age group of 15-24 and a 23 percent drop among men in the age group of 17-29. According to the study, “other factors such as Zimbabwe’s well-educated population, good communications, and health service infrastructure played a crucial role in bringing down the prevalence rate”. (‘Spread of AIDS is reduced greatly in Zimbabwe due to change in behaviour’, bio-medicine.org, 2 March 2006)
The government has also fulfilled on its previous promise of making sure that every Zimbabwean should be within walking distance of a health clinic or hospital.
Total expenditure on health is 7.5 percent of the country’s GDP, and is well above most third-world countries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s statistical report for 2006 shows that there is extremely high access to improved water sources – 100 percent for urban areas and 74 percent for rural areas (the statistics for Africa as a whole are 84 percent for urban areas and 45 percent for rural areas).
The WHO report also shows that Zimbabwe has far higher immunisation coverage than the continent as a whole and a much lower incidence of extreme poverty, hunger and child mortality.
Since its election in 1980, Zanu-PF has placed tremendous importance on public education, and government spending on education trebled over the course of the 1980s. Zimbabwe has achieved over 90 percent literacy – the highest of any country in Africa. Free primary and secondary education is available to every child.
In 1980, there was only one university in the country. Now each of the ten provinces has a fully internationally-accredited university.
Said Mugabe at the recent Zanu manifesto launch: “We do not want an ignorant nation; we need an enlightened nation. From day one, 1980 we made our demand that no child shall go without education.”
Isn’t the economy in a mess?
The reader may be asking: well, if Zanu has done so well, why is there hyperinflation? Why are exports reduced? Why is Zimbabwe suffering economic difficulties? Surely it would be better to let another party have a go at managing the economic crisis?
It is indeed true that Zimbabwe is undergoing economic difficulties; however, these have been blown out of all proportion by the imperialist press.
Yes, there is hyperinflation, but hyperinflation itself does not necessarily lead to terrible hardship of the population. Since the land resettlement programme, massive commercial farms producing cash crops for export have been replaced by small and medium-sized farms producing subsistence crops for internal consumption. So, while Zimbabwe’s economy is suffering on the international front, the population is still being fed, clothed, housed, educated and cared for.
This is in spite of the wide-ranging economic sanctions that have been imposed, the destruction of farmland by former settler farmers, the hoarding of food and other vital commodities by big business, and the droughts and monsoons that have affected the entire southern African region.
Even where subsistence farming has been hit by natural disasters, the government’s speed and scale of response have been exemplary. They have not stood idly by and allowed the population to starve – rather, hundreds of thousands of tons of corn and maize have been imported to prevent any humanitarian crisis.
With regard to the sanctions, it is often claimed in the press that these are purely ‘targeted’, ‘smart sanctions’ applied against Mugabe and a few other leading lights in Zanu-PF who are accused of ‘human rights violations’ (ie, violating the ‘human right’ of multinational corporations to exploit Zimbabwe’s natural resources).
Nothing could be further from the truth. The west has imposed wide-ranging economic sanctions on Zimbabwe with the express purpose of creating a crisis that will lead to regime change.
The US’s Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, the stated purpose of which is to “provide for a transition to democracy”, is designed to suffocate Zimbabwe’s economy. It prohibits exports (direct and indirect), imports (direct and indirect), trade brokering, financing and facilitation, as well as most financial transactions. It claims that these prohibitions are targeted against “Specially Designated Nationals”, but in reality it extends to any Zimbabwean politician or businessman that does not share the world outlook of the US State Department.
The act will remain in place until “rule of law has been restored in Zimbabwe, including respect for ownership and title to property”. (Our emphasis)
Additionally, the IMF and the other major western creditors have suspended all financial and technical aid to Zimbabwe. In a statement released in February 2007 announcing the continuation of sanctions, the IMF said:
“The board expressed deep concern over the deteriorating economic and social conditions and regretted that the authorities have not undertaken the policies recommended by the IMF.” (‘IMF reaffirms economic sanctions against Zimbabwe’, Reuters, 23 February 2007)
The Reuters report continues:
“The IMF again urged Zimbabwe to action to stop the economic slide by immediately implementing a comprehensive stabilization package that includes fiscal tightening, and price and foreign exchange liberalization.
“It also called for fundamental reforms of public enterprises and the civil service, improvements to property rights and governance.”
In short: Zimbabwe refuses to allow us unimpeded access to its natural resources and markets; therefore we refuse to help it.
Similarly, Peter Hain – once the darling of the Labour ‘left’ for his highly-publicised opposition to South African apartheid – is on record as saying that Britain stands ready to help Zimbabwe “only if there is a real commitment to sound economic policies of modernisation and privatisation.” (Financial Times, 16 February 2000, cited in ‘Zimbabwe election – a defeat for imperialism’, Lalkar, July 2000)
You can’t get much clearer than that: good government is characterised not by addressing inequality, not by meeting the needs of the masses, not by building schools and hospitals, but by … privatisation!
That the imperialist sanctions are designed to create instability and inspire a counterrevolutionary coup is tacitly confirmed by numerous high-level representatives of imperialism.
Christopher Dell, US ambassador to Zimbabwe, predicting that inflation would reach 1.5m percent by the end of 2007 (an embarrassing prediction, given that the current rate of inflation is estimated by even the most hostile sources at 100,000 percent), said smugly of the economic situation: “It destabilises everything. People have completely lost faith in the currency and that means they have completely lost faith in the government that issues it … Things have reached a critical point. I believe the excitement will come in a matter of months, if not weeks. The Mugabe government is reaching end game, it is running out of options.” (‘US says Zimbabwe change is afoot’, BBC News Online, 22 June 2007)
Tawanda Hondora, a Zimbabwean lawyer strongly opposed to Zanu, has sufficient compassion for his countrymen that he wants to see an end to the sanctions. In an article for New Zimbabwe published on 11 March 2006, he explained some of the details of the sanctions and economic boycott:
“It is often argued that the sanctions in place against Zimbabwe are not economic in nature; rather, the argument goes, there is in existence a regime of smart sanctions, which targets specific Zanu-PF loyalists. This is not true. Zimbabwe’s economic woes are the direct result of a concerted and systematic campaign to effect regime change through an economic implosion.
“Zimbabwe has a critical shortage of foreign currency. However, for the past four years or so, Zimbabwe has been unable to obtain finance or credit facilities from international lenders to inject into the economy. And this is a direct consequence of a sanctions regime imposed against the Zimbabwe by particularly the US, and the EU.
“Zidera [the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, 2001] empowers the US to use its voting rights and influence (as the main donor) in multilateral lending agencies, such as the IMF, World Bank, and the African Development Bank to veto any applications by Zimbabwe for finance, credit facilities, loan rescheduling, and international debt cancellation.
“Simply put, owing to the size of the US vote and influence in these institutions, neither the IMF, World Bank nor the African Development Bank will lend to Zimbabwe, or offer it credit facilities.
“In addition, Zimbabwe’s ability to reschedule its loan payments and to apply for debt cancellations in times of severe financial crisis was severely affected.
“And once the IMF and World Bank stopped doing business with Zimbabwe, this had an immediate and adverse impact on Zimbabwe’s credit and investment rating. And with a drop in investment rating went the dream of low cost capital on the international markets.
“The consequent foreign currency crisis has resulted in the continued devaluation of the domestic currency, rapid inflation, and all else that has manifested itself in the current Zimbabwe economic crisis.”
So wouldn’t it be best if Zanu simply gave up its opposition to imperialist interference and grabbed at the carrot of aid, privatisation and liberalisation that is being dangled in front of it? Surely the people of Zimbabwe would benefit, even if it meant sacrificing the principle of national independence?
Not if the record of any other oppressed country means anything.
In the article cited above, George Shire wrote: “I was in Lisbon during the EU-Africa Summit and I met an Ethiopian economist who told me that 50 percent of rural Ethiopian children are malnourished. They have the world’s highest incidence of hunger. She said that a typical father in the Ethiopian countryside has an income of around 74 cents a day in purchasing power adjusted dollars. She calculated how his needs fit into the foreign aid process.
“She said that if all was going well and the international lenders and donors release new funds to Ethiopia, some of these funds would reach the Ethiopian father’s hungry children.
“In the best case scenario, if lots of shaky empirical relationships and assumptions hold, a continuing flow of aid might raise the country’s economic growth by one percentage point a year. This means that 10 years from now, the aid programme will have increased the Ethiopian father’s income by a grand total of 8 cents per day. That is the exact template of what the MDC is offering Zimbabweans in exchange of giving back the land and its natural resources to the West.”
Free and fair
At the time of writing, the final results of the election are still not known. The initial parliamentary results were released, as were the senate results, but the presidential results are not yet out, owing to various complications, including complaints by both Zanu and MDC-T of irregularities, leading to a re-count of 23 constituencies. As we go to press, the Zimbabwe Election Commission has announced that the final results will be released imminently.
Initial results for the parliamentary elections were as follows in Table 1.
In the senate vote, Zanu attained 30 seats,MDC-T’s 24 and MDC-M’s 6.
In the run-up to the election, the MDC and its imperialist backers attempted to prejudice the results by loudly shouting that the election would not be ‘free and fair’, citing the fact that western countries were banned from monitoring the elections. Of course, the delay in releasing the results gave the MDC another opportunity to shout loudly (to the highly receptive ears of the mainstream press in Britain and the US) about Zanu attempting to subvert the election results. The MDC’s estimates were treated by western journalists and politicians as the actual results. The BBC insistently referred to the independent ZEC as the “state-run election commission”, instead giving credence to the statements of the so-called Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which has clear links with imperialism (see Stephen Gowans’ article ‘Expressions of imperialism within Zimbabwe’, gowans.wordpress.com).
We can only comment that, if Zanu is attempting to rig the elections, it is doing a curiously ineffective job! Not only do the initial parliamentary figures show that Zanu has lost its majority in parliament, but the 18 seats where recounts have taken place all confirm their original results. Surely this gives lie to the slander that Zanu have found a way to rig elections, sidestepping the independent ZEC? History is not exactly littered with examples of organisations rigging elections in order to almost win.
In fact, the elections were conducted in exemplary fashion, and were hailed as free and fair, democratic, credible and transparent by all the organisations that monitored them, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the Pan African Parliament and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Justice.
South African president Thabo Mbeki commented:
“We have been very pleased with the manner in which the elections were conducted: the opposition had access to every part of the country, there was no violence, no one was beaten up; it’s gone very well. You have a very serious effort by the people of Zimbabwe to resolve their problems, we could see there was a common spirit among them and that’s the sense we got. And in the conduct of the election none of the parties came back to us to intervene to say something was going wrong,” (cited in The Observer, 13 April).
However, we aren’t able to say that the recent elections were completely free from interference. Far from it. Britain and the US in particular have been making every effort to bribe the people of Zimbabwe into rejecting the leadership of Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
Suffocating sanctions have been introduced in order to destabilise the country, and there has been a relentless propaganda campaign, both in Zimbabwe and internationally, designed to discredit the Zimbabwean leadership and prepare the way for a neo-colonial stooge like Tsvangirai. These sanctions were stepped up shortly before the election.
Naturally, the MDC have received significant external funding for their election campaigning, and the IMF has made it very clear that any non-Zanu government in Zimbabwe would be offered an ‘attractive’ package of aid and loans.
The days immediately following the election were characterised by a media onslaught against Mugabe and Zanu, with various bourgeois hacks repeating the MDC’s declaration that the several-day delay in announcing the final results could only imply foul play on the part of the government. They chose to ignore the very reasonable explanation of the Zimbabwe Election Commission, which pointed out that there was a significant amount of work involved in collating the results of parliamentary, presidential and local elections and properly verifying these results (a process in which MDC were, in fact, involved).
Long before the final results came out, the western media were announcing that Zanu had been trounced and that Mugabe was in talks about stepping down gracefully, etc. Shortly after the election, the BBC and the Guardian declared Tsvangirai the winner.
Over the last couple of weeks, the MDC have been preparing the ground for their imperialist friends to intervene militarily on their behalf, orchestrating riots and then massively exaggerating about the suppression of those riots! The MDC says 15 of its supporters have been killed since the elections. They have offered absolutely no evidence to support their claim (not even names of the supposed deceased). The BBC has faithfully reproduced the claims of “huge violence”, but these claims are only supported by MDC supporters. Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu denied the reports of violence, stating: “There is nothing like that. They are concocting things. It is peaceful.” (BBC News Online, 9 April)
MDC spokesman Tendai Biti, said very clearly: “I say don’t wait for dead bodies on the streets of Harare. Intervene now. There’s a constitutional and legal crisis in Zimbabwe.”
Such statements have a clear purpose: to mobilise public opinion in favour of an MDC coup in the event of the election results coming back in favour of Mugabe/Zanu. This is what the governments of the US and Britain mean when they talk about ‘free and fair’ elections.
Although we don’t have the final results for the presidential election at the time of going to press, it’s clear that MDC have done relatively well and that Zanu and Mugabe have lost ground. It looks likely that neither of the main presidential candidates has won a clear majority and that there will need to be a run-off in a few weeks’ time.
Given the crippling economic sanctions that have been applied against Zimbabwe, it is not surprising that many Zimbabweans are looking for an easy way out.
The situation has deteriorated, thanks to the sanctions applied by imperialism, in the light which the IMF’s aid packages and loans probably sound like quite a good idea to a lot of people.
Ahmed Sékou Touré, first president of Guinea, famously said: “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery.” This is also the attitude of Comrade Mugabe and Zanu-PF. “Poverty in liberty” means poverty but with the means of building lasting wealth, while “riches in slavery” means temporary riches for a few lap-dogs of imperialism, combined with the most terrible impoverishment of the masses and the unbridled rapacity of foreign capital.
Clearly there are those in Zimbabwe who haven’t understood that the carrots being put in front of them by imperialism will only benefit a few and will be accompanied by the complete pauperisation of the masses of Zimbabweans. If Tsvangirai wins, public spending will be massively reduced, agriculture will be re-focussed on export crops, and the people of Zimbabwe will be subjected to the iniquities of the IMF’s ‘severe austerity’ programme.
It is our sincere hope that the Zimbabwean people will not be tricked by the honeyed words of imperialism, and that they will hold true to their slogan: Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!
In the words of Comrade Mugabe, speaking at a rally marking Zimbabwe’s 28th anniversary of independence:
“Yesterday they ruled by brute force. Today they have perfected their tactics to be more subtle. They are literally buying people to betray their government and accept to be politically manipulated in abandoning their rights. We are being bought like sheep because they have money and because we are suffering …
“Things will never ever change, never ever change to the extent that they can come back and reoccupy our farms, our land. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again. Down with the British. Down with thieves who want to steal our country.” (The Guardian, 19 April)
Victory to Zanu and Mugabe!